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Your Fitness - Are You Working on Working Out?
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The health clubs, gyms, and training studios sector is big business and is predicted to continue rapid growth world wide. 2014 estimates put the number of health clubs in North America at 37,500 with 61.8 million members. Total revenues are expected to come in at about $30 billion!

The industry is also very important to the overall economy with an estimated 50,000 people employed in health clubs, gyms, and training studios in Canada.

The growth projection estimates for the industry in Canada range from 5 to 10% per year, depending on who is giving the estimate.

Just as recent as January 21st, Jane Riddel CEO of London based GoodLife Fitness announced that the company is considering taking over some or maybe all 133 stores being vacated by Target after their failed venture into Canada.

The Target stores have a square footage ranging from 7,100 square feet to 9,500 square feet. Some self-proclaimed experts immediately said that spaces that large were far too big for health clubs. That could be so in some of the locations where Target stores are currently situated like Stratford, Smith Falls or Sydney NS but mega gyms could be very successful in the larger urban centres. Keep in mind that GoodLife’s main downtown Toronto gym is 39,000 square feet!

There seems to be room for the very large, the medium and the small "boutique" clubs each serving a specific target market.

In this edition of Christian Life in London, we took the opportunity to chat with the owner operator of one of the City's most successful Boutique health clubs.

Cheryl Pattyn, commonly referred to the "Workout Queen", turned her passion for fitness and personal training into the energy-infused Positive Image Fitness 14 years. During that time numerous clubs have come and gone while Cheryl's Positive Image Fitness is "healthy" based on belief, sweat, and inspiration.

Cheryl helps her clients get to the root of their mind, body, and spirit imbalances as they tighten, tone and become fit. She realizes that not everyone WANTS to move, but that everyone NEEDS to move to stay balanced, focused and inspired in all areas of life.

After graduating York University with a kinesiology degree and a certificate in personal training she worked at a local big box gym for 2 years before stepping out on her own.

Today she works privately in the comfort of clients' homes or with small groups at her personal training studio, adapting movement to suit a person’s specific needs for optimum results.

Cheryl's tag line, Believe, Sweat, Inspire is just that. Her clients walk away from a workout believing in their physical abilities, sweaty and inspired to live a healthier life for themselves and those around them.

We think you will find Cheryl's comments, and insightful.

1. Why did you decide to get into the fitness training business?
I have always been active. I figure skated as a kid then got into volleyball and basketball from grades 7-OAC year in high school. It was in high school for the senior volleyball team that we started off court training in the weight room and LOVED IT! At York University I studied/graduated in Kinesiology with a certificate in personal training. I really love the enjoyment I get out of seeing what my body is capable of doing and showing my clients that they too are capable of doing a push-up, step up or burpee and seeing the excitement in their eyes when they do it for the first time - Awesome! So basically I got into the fitness business because I want my clients to prove to themselves that they are capable.

2. How long have you been in business?
I have owned Positive Image Fitness for 14 years this summer.

3. Do you target a specific niche market or do you have programs to fit anyone / everyone.
I love working with women from the ages of 30-55yrs of age. My programs are geared more towards that. I do train men in my group training and one on one, but all of the men I do train are the husbands, partners of the women I trained first. My 8-week body challenges are my favourite as it is a great kick-start to reaching any fitness goal - fat loss, muscle toning, strengthening and flexibility. these challenges are offered 3 times/year with the next one starting in May 2014.

4. What techniques would you employ to increase your clientele?
My business relies on referrals and word or mouth for sure. I have done ad mail in the past with some success and is something I will be doing again in the spring. I do find trade shows a hit or miss and I do belong to 2 networking groups as well.

5. Getting new members is one challenge but retention is another. With statistics claiming that as much as 50% of new "New Year" clients will have dropped out by the six-month point, how do you prevent this?
Retention is not an issue if you have a great product/service. I pride myself on my programming. I don't just show up and wing it and do whatever comes to mind that day. I spend about 3-4 hours/month programming out my group/boot camp sessions and my one on one sessions so that boredom is not an option, clients can see themselves progressing/getting stronger/getting leaner, and doing measurements, weigh ins and before/after pictures is huge as well because then they see the numbers moving.

6. What do you offer that the "super" gyms can't offer?
I use to work in a big box gym for about 2 years before I ventured off on my own. The big box gyms are great for the self-motivated. At Positive Image Fitness there is more of a personal touch. You are dealing with the owner directly if there is a problem, question or concern about something. My clients are an extension of my family!

7. What certifications do you have?
I am certified through CSEP (Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology) with a CEP (Canadian Exercise Physiologist) certificate. This is my governing body in which I have rules to follow in order to maintain my professional insurance. I am also required to complete professional development courses each year to maintain my certificate and insurance. I have taken courses in Kettlebell training, nutrition, body weight training, the list just goes on and on.

8. This job is about getting clients, getting referrals, and making sales, staying current with equipment and programs how do you perform with this pressure?
There really is no pressure to stay on top of it because I love learning about new techniques and modalities of training so for me its fun. In regards to the client retention and getting new clients, that really is just a game of how creative I can be in my marketing and referral generation. So coming up with a referral contest is one example.

9. Tell us about an experience you've had dealing with an unhappy customer? Back when I first doing the group/boot camp training, I had one client who just stopped coming for no reason. She later emailed me saying that I was disorganized, reading the workout off my clipboard and not paying attention. I was obviously upset but learned from it.

My group training sessions are different each night so to memorize them would be difficult but I make sure that I am not just standing there barking out exercises. I participate to some extend so that they can see me doing what I need them to do and if there is a newbie in the group, then I make sure to match them up with a veteran in the group that way there are 2 sets of eyes on them.

You take criticism in stride and not as a personal attack, you learn from it and move on as a better person and business.


10. What is your best (favourite) success story?
My best success story is not over yet. I have a one on one client that I have been working with now for just over 2 years. When we first started she was getting around via a walker and she was doing some very simple resistance band exercises given to her from a physiotherapist and her weight wouldn't register on her doctors scale. To date, she is doing push-ups, modified burpees, squats, lunges, step-ups and is lifting 8-10 lbs dumbbells and is registering on her doctors scale - HUGE leaps and bounds, absolutely an amazing women who didn't give up and trusts the process/journey she is on!

11. How important is nutrition to the training programs you establish for your clients?
Nutrition is huge, about 75-80% huge. But depending on the client, will determine where we start with their nutrition. For example, not everyone has the mindset and drive to change everyone at once, so smaller steps are needed. So for 1-2 weeks we may focus on breakfast, then move onto snacks, then lunch and dinner, so by the end of 6-8 weeks we have tackled the day. Now in my 8-week body challenges, there is a full 8-week meal plan that comes with it, so for those in the challenge they are jumping in with both feet.

12. Will you strongly suggest your clients follow a better diet to improve their fitness goals?
Yes, because if you eat crap you will feel and look like crap - it really is that simple. So again, depending on the client, we may tackle sugar issues first or a pop addiction or the heavy carbohydrate consumption. Each client is very different but the goal is to make it as simple and easy as possible so that it's doable.

13. Have you had and special education on nutrition?
I have taken courses on nutrition and read up on all the latest and greatest. An actual nutritional certification is on my do to list.

14. A client walks in and says he/she wants to start training, what evaluations would you begin doing to determine their appropriate fitness program?
With my one on one clients there is always a success session first where I get to know the client and they get to know me. I will learn about their eating, sleep and lifestyle habits as well as take them through some movement patterns to see how well they move and give my a starting point with their programming.

15. What makes you smile at the end of the day?
Knowing that I have made a difference in someone's live. Each day there is always one person/client that makes me smile because they achieved/did something that they didn't think they would be able to do. Hearing someone say "I did all my push-ups on my toes today" or "I didn't have to stop before my break to have a break" those are the small but huge goals that make me smile and my clients happy!

For more about Positive Image Fitness or to connect with Cheryl, click HERE for her web site or call 519.859.3860.